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January 28, 2024

Candid Polaroids of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson of the B-52’s From the Late 1980s

These days, the B-52’s are such a key tenet of popular culture that no one thinks twice when they hear frontman Fred Schneider’s staccato Sprechgesang or see images of vocalists Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson’s skyscraper hairdos.

They formed as “the B-52’s” in 1976 when Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson (her elder brother), Pierson, Strickland, and cowbell player, poet, and lead vocalist Schneider held an impromptu jam session after sharing a flaming volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant in Athens, Georgia. When they first jammed, Strickland played guitar and Ricky Wilson played congas. They later played their first concert (with Wilson on guitar) in 1977 at a Valentine’s Day party for their friends.

The name “B-52’s’ comes from a particular beehive hairdo resembling the nose cone of the aircraft, which Pierson and Cindy Wilson wore in performances during the band’s first decade. The band’s quirky take on the new wave sound of its era was a combination of dance and surf music set apart from their contemporaries by the unusual guitar tunings Ricky Wilson used and thrift-store chic.


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